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The Great Recruiter Revolt

By Peter Weddle, CEO TAtech

We’ve all heard about and many of us have actually experienced the Great Resignation. Hundreds of thousands of workers are reversing decades of corporate practice and handing their employers a pink slip. It’s a tectonic shift in employment power relationships, and it’s occurring in almost every profession, craft and trade. While the situation is usually portrayed as a headache for recruiters, however, it’s actually something else. It’s the signal for the Great Recruiter Revolt.

A recent Inc. article laid bare the sobering reality:

“According to the U.S. Department of Labor, during the months of April, May, and June 2021, a total of 11.5 million workers quit their jobs. Recent studies indicate that it's likely not over. A survey of over 30,000 workers conducted by Microsoft found that 41 percent are considering quitting; that number jumps to 54 percent when Gen-Z is considered alone. Gallup found that 48 percent of employees are actively searching for new opportunities. And Persio reported that 38 percent of those they surveyed planned to make a change in the next six months.”

What’s behind this tsunami of talent heading out the door? Inc. checked a number of worker surveys and found a consistent theme:

“A great many -- over half in several surveys -- cite stress and burnout in their current position as a reason for looking elsewhere. Others point to dissatisfaction, and even fear, caused by knee-jerk cost-cutting actions by their current employer in response to Covid-19-related business slowdowns as a reason for bolting, with many finding fundamental unfairness in holds on promotions, frozen merit increases, and indiscriminate layoffs which impacted poor performers and stars equally, particularly as they watched executive leadership refuse to participate in the pain.”

To put it more bluntly, workers are sick and tired of inept, self-serving corporate leadership. And, that’s also why the time has come for the Great Recruiter Revolt.

It’s Time to Turn Your Back on Lousy Leadership

Recruiters have always been an incredibly loyal cohort of any organization’s workforce. All too often, they were forced to accept inadequate budgets, short staffing, inferior technology and a second class status in the corporate structure, yet still, they labored on. For decades, recruiters have worked miracles in filling employers’ openings despite such obstacles. And now, they shouldn’t.

The Great Resignation is symptomatic of a rot among CEOs and their direct reports as well as among organizational leaders down to and including first-line supervisors. That rot, in turn, shoves recruiters headlong into a Hobbesian choice. Either they’re forced to overlook or misrepresent such shortcomings among their organization’s leaders in an effort to bring talent in the door, or they tell the truth and are unable to fill the openings for which they are responsible. Regardless of which route they take, they end up damaged by stress, guilt or crummy performance evaluations.

What’s the alternative? Stand up for yourself. Turn your back on lousy leadership and quit. There’s never been less risk in doing so. Employers are as desperate for recruiters these days as they are for every other kind of talent. Just take a look at LinkedIn. The dozens of posts from employers searching for recruiters are proof positive that they need you far more than you need them.

So, if you find yourself working for an employer with all the leadership skills of a brick – if the Great Resignation is now underway in your organization – it’s not only appropriate, it’s self-preservation to head for the exit as well. The only caveat is to be smart about selecting your next stop. Make sure it’s worthy of the talent you bring to work and not another repeat of lousy leadership.

Food for Thought,

Peter Weddle is the author or editor of over two dozen books and a former columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He is also the founder and CEO of TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions. You can check out his latest books on Amazon or in the TAtech Bookstore.